We conducted a field study using multiple wearable devices on 231 federal office workers to assess the impact of the indoor environment on individual wellbeing. Past research has established that the workplace environment is closely tied to an individual’s wellbeing. Since sound is the most-reported environmental factor causing stress and discomfort, we focus on quantifying its association with physiological wellbeing. Physiological wellbeing is represented as a latent variable in an empirical Bayes model with heart rate variability measures—SDNN and normalized-HF as the observed outcomes and with exogenous factors including sound level as inputs. We find that an individual’s physiological wellbeing is optimal when sound level in the workplace is at 50 dBA. At lower (<50dBA) and higher (>50dBA) amplitude ranges, a 10 dBA increase in sound level is related to a 5.4% increase and 1.9% decrease in physiological wellbeing respectively. Age, body-mass-index, high blood pressure, anxiety, and computer use intensive work are person-level factors contributing to heterogeneity in the sound-wellbeing association.
Srinivasan, K., Currim, F., Lindberg, C.M. et al. Discovery of associative patterns between workplace sound level and physiological wellbeing using wearable devices and empirical Bayes modeling. npj Digit. Med. 6, 5 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-022-00727-1